The shareware versions of Duke Nukem 3D are demos that showcase limited content from the full game. Although originally published through 3D Realms' website, the shareware has also been published on original CD-ROM presses, and it has sometimes been bundled on CDs with commercial games or with other shareware. The shareware demos are free to download and redistribute.
Main Article: Duke Nukem 3D v0.99 Beta
Shareware version 0.99, better known as Duke Nukem 3D v0.99 Beta, is a leaked prototype that was never intended for public release. Although the prototype is very similar to the completed game, it still exhibits many significant differences from shareware version 1.0 and the commercial release, particularly in the difficulty settings and level design.
Released January 29, 1996, shareware version 1.0 exhibits several notable differences from the commercial release:
- Switches and rockets use their older sprites from LameDuke.
- Pig Cops have more health.
- The RPG deals less damage.
- Advertisements for the commercial version refer to the Laser Tripbomb as the "Wall Laser Bomb" and refer to an unreleased "Laser" gun.
- This version does not have the crosshair or mouse aiming.
Compiled February 20, 1996, shareware version 1.1 exhibits a few small differences from shareware version 1.3d:
- In Toxic Dump, the exit button has a number tag of 6 in version 1.3d, but in version 1.1, it has a number tag of 32767. 32767 is the tag for secret areas.
- When submerged in sewage, the water color is yellow in version 1.3d, but in version 1.1, the color is no different than when submerged in normal water.
- The HUD has weapons slots numbered 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 0 in version 1.3d, but in version 1.1, there is no weapon slot assigned to the number 0. This may mean that version 1.3d is the first version with the Freezethrower or Devastator.
- The loading screen in version 1.3d features the Duke Nukem symbol with the text "Loading" or "Entering Level," but version 1.1 only features text over a blank screen.
Computer Gaming World Demo
Compiled March 4, 1996, the Computer Gaming World Demo, long known by the nickname "v1.1+" in some online forums, refers to itself as version 1.1, but it exhibits changes from version 1.1 that date it somewhere between versions 1.1 and 1.2. It was published on a CD-ROM packaged with the May 1996 issue of Computer Gaming World (Issue #142). Only Hollywood Holocaust is playable in the demo. Notably, the demo contains a few segments of code that are completely unique to this version of the game:
- The Overlord has a secondary hitscan attack, corresponding to the machine gun in its crotch from pre-release screenshots.
- The Devastator is referred to as the "Cycloid," likely in reference to the fact that it resembles the weapon wielded by the Cycloid Emperor.
Shareware version 1.2 was never released, but its existence was suggested by Richard "TerminX" Gobeille, who signed a non-disclosure agreement and has been given the complete archive of Duke Nukem 3D development files. In the Duke4 forums, someone asked whether a shareware version 1.2 ever existed. Gobeille responded by posting a screenshot from a non-shareware version 1.2, implying a shareware version may have existed as well.
On April 24, 1996, shareware version 1.3d was released on the same day as the commercial version. Artwork was not updated between shareware versions, so version 1.3d still had, for example, the same rocket sprites and switch sprites as version 1.0, which were different from the commercial version.
Shareware version 1.4 was never released, but its existence has been confirmed by Richard Gobeille, who discovered it shortly after his discovery of version 1.2 described above. In the Duke4 forums, he posted a screenshot as proof.
Levels available in the demo
- Hollywood Holocaust
- Red Light District
- Death Row
- Toxic Dump
- The Abyss
- Launch Facility (Secret Level)
NOTE: The Computer Gaming World Demo only features Hollywood Holocaust.
Enemies encountered in the demo
Weapons available in the demo
- Download All Shareware Versions (via Dukeworld)
- Analysis of Shareware Version 0.99 (via The Cutting Room Floor)
- Analysis of Shareware Version 1.0 (via The Cutting Room Floor)
- Analysis of the Computer Gaming World Demo (via The Cutting Room Floor)
- Preserved 3D Realms Downloads Page (via the 3D Realms legacy site)